The Fellowship: Gilbert, Bacon, Harvey, Wren, Newton, and the Story of a Scientific Revolution

John Gribbin, Author . Overlook $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-58567-831-0

In his latest book, astrophysicist and veteran science writer Gribbin (In Search of Schrödinger's Cat ) sweeps away the dust of historical distance to offer a detailed look into the lives and obsessions of the men at the heart of the scientific revolution and the birth of the Royal Society: "the right people, in the right place, at the right time." Italy, says Gribbin, would have birthed the scientific revolution, building on Galileo's efforts, but for the stifling interference of the Catholic Church. Meanwhile William Gilbert was studying magnetism in England and advocating the use of hands-on methods—experimentation—countering the rigid, traditional Aristotelian view that pure thought was enough to understand the workings of the universe. The value of testing hypotheses through experimentation was reinforced by Francis Bacon and created a new generation of thinkers, led by Christopher Wren and Robert Boyle, who created the Royal Society. At first the society was financially dependent on wealthy amateur scientists, but soon Robert Hooke's experiments in physics and chemistry made the society justly famous. Isaac Newton "completed the task of turning a somewhat dilettante gentleman's talking shop into a truly learned society." Gribbin is an ideal and entertaining narrator for this lively story of intellectual discovery and brotherhood. Illus. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 05/01/2007
Paperback - 335 pages - 978-1-59020-026-1
Hardcover - 335 pages - 978-0-7139-9745-3
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